View Full Version : Gibson A 1

Mar-07-2006, 12:01pm
I've seen a 1915 Gibson A 1 model that looks to be in excellent condition with all original adornments-- finish looks great with no cracks or dents. My question is I'm a novice and have no resources to say what would a reasonable price -- maybe even a top price so I don't spend more than it'll ever be worth-- even though I kid myself that it's an investment - I doubt that I'll ever dispose of it if it turns out to be as good as it looks on the internet!
Thanks for any comments/info about worth!

Mar-07-2006, 12:26pm
can you link us to the item? We can tell better if it really is all original and good condition that way.. but figure $800-1300 is the range for them..

Mar-07-2006, 12:28pm
Well, having owned a few of these I'll chime in here.

Top dollar seems to be in the $1400-$1500 range, but I've seen really nice examples sell for as little as $1000, too, from individual sellers rather than dealers.

-Chris Rorrer

Mar-07-2006, 12:29pm
...Yep. What Dan said. All depends on originality and condition. OHSC is a plus, too.

-Chris Rorrer

Mar-07-2006, 12:34pm
I saw it on EBAY today for the 1st time this morning-- the pics really look nice-- it's ebay item #7396255242-- check it out and let me know if you will -- thanks!

Mar-07-2006, 12:55pm
LINK (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&ru=http%3A%2F%2Fsearch.ebay.com%3A80%2F7396255242)


Mar-07-2006, 12:55pm
At first glance, it looks very nice to me, too. Definitely priced towards the highest end of the spectrum, though. Ebay is always something of a risk (and some folks absolutely will not buy an instrument from ebay, for very valid reasons.)

My personal advice would be to ask LOTS of questions in respect to all aspects of its condition and request more detailed photos from all angles. The seller also does not state whether or not the case is original.

And if you're in the vicinity, definitely ask if you can arrange to inspect the instrument. That's always the true test, and there's no substitute.

-Chris Rorrer

Mar-07-2006, 12:57pm
I've got an A that I bought for 1250. Bangs and dings. Sounds great, though. I could be mistaken, but I think the pre-teens are a little less. Check out some websites that are selling them....Elderly Instruments, Vintage Instruments in Philadelphia and compare. There are pics on these sites. J

Jack Roberts
Mar-07-2006, 1:28pm
I paid a bit more than the going rate for an A-1 with lots of bangs, dings, worn out finish, missing pick guard, gouged out face where the pick guard should have been, and to top it off, a cigarette burn on the oval hole. But the sound is worth it. It is sweet when played softly, and loud and rangy when spanked hard, and a resonance and sustain unlike any other. In the same shop (Buffalo Brothers) there were museum pieces for the same or less, but without the sound.

I agree with the consensus that there is a price range for old Gibson A's, but buy for the sound if you can. Maybe buying from e-bay is o.k., but there is a lot of variability of sound in these old instruments. They could also have structural problems like detached tone bars (common) and warped necks (only seen it once) as well as over-spray and poor quality repairs--after all, they are 90 years old or so. Heck, I'm 51 and I've already got a warped neck...


Mar-07-2006, 2:09pm
Hmm, the finish looks nice, but I'd be pretty curious to know if it's oversprayed.. I've not seen one that color before either (no sun damage? no orange tint in the finish?)..

Mar-07-2006, 3:00pm
Thanks for the feedback on the 1915 Gibson A 1! I do appreciate it all! As I said I'm a novice at this and just rather be safe than sorry. Like was pointed out it does look almost to clean to be "untouched" . I'll pose a few more questions to the seller and see what I hear back! Again thanks for all those comments and suggestions!

Bill in NC

Eric F.
Mar-07-2006, 3:08pm
Hi, Bill. I will buy old Gibsons from eBay if I can get them at what I feel is a bargain price. I think there is too much variability to invest heavily in them. I wouldn't pay more than I knew I could get back on eBay. I sat in Gruhn's one afternoon and played teens A after teens A. The variabilty in tone, playabilty, neck feel, responsiveness - in EVERYTHING really - was vast. That really taught me to not just jump on something because it looks in good shape. My favorite by far that day was a dinged-up brown top that looked like it had been through every war since it was made but sounded so sweet.

mandy lynne
Mar-10-2006, 7:34pm
The tint on that pickguard looks a little off, almost like its not even tortoise. Maybe its just the light. When buying instruments from distant locations, you should try and secure an approval period and have the instrument delivered straight to your local luthier shop. I too have been to gruhn's and found the quality of mandos on the ground level to be inconsistent. To be honest, I almost felt the good stuff must be upstairs and by invite-only because I was really not impressed. Since then I've heard some other rumors about what goes on upstairs at Gruhn's...stories akin to swapping dated pots from a musicmaster to cobble together a "mint" '57 strat and then flip it to an offshore buyer and hope he doesn't check the solder marks. I've heard worse of other 'vintage' dealers. As always, buyer beware.

May-25-2006, 3:32pm
Looks nice - but I have an A - (I thought mine was 1910, but it's an A0 and I'm told they're not that old.) Anyway - to get back to the topic, that definitely looks like a respray-job to me, and the tailpiece cover looks too new. The tail-cover on mine is silver over brass, and there's very little silver left - it's been rubbed away by 90-odd years worth of wrist action!

May-25-2006, 3:59pm
I got a '28 A1 on Ebay a year ago for $1250. Good condition, orig, case, no top sinkage, straight neck, orig. pickguard and bridge...but you do take a chance and I was 4000 miles from the vendor. The sound is a good average for an A....but not outstanding......John

May-25-2006, 4:46pm
Is that a one piece top or just badly "matched"? I love it either way.

Jun-02-2006, 11:56am
The bidding is over and it didn't sell.

All the above warnings are worthy.

However, there's a lot of these mandos out there, and I think it is possible for one to sit in a case for decades and come out looking good.

Dan Adams
Jun-02-2006, 6:19pm
I have two teens Gibson A-models. #One label very specifically states it is an A-0 Model. Serial number dates it to 1917, and has been confirmed by Gibson. My other (NOTE)is listed in the 'Wanted to Trade' section of the classified ads is a 1916. I think the A-0 Models did not have anything on the headstock. Just speculating? The 17 looks like it walked off the factory floor, and the 16 has had a harder life. Both sound fantastic, but the 1916 is the one I play all the time because of its condition and great ole timey sound! Guess my initial investments are looking pretty good considering the current estimated value. I saw a 1918 at GC that I was interested in, but at $1,800.00 I thought it was way over priced. Plus; it had a high gloss finish like the one being discussed here, so I too thought it was oversprayed. My 17 is a nice matte finish because of the age of the instrument. Back to another thread, does the alteration of the instrument devalue it some...? Good question. Pick gaurds are a result of a huge variation in the material, or so i've heard. So the light colored pickgaurd is probably original, especially with the original bracket system still in place. Just some observations on the subject. #Dan